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NAMM 2015 - Day 1

NAMM 2015 Day 1

Another year, another NAMM show.

Here we are again, back with the rest of the music industry in Anaheim, Los Angeles. A lot has happened in last year - companies have been bought and sold, shops have closed down, shops open up, but the show has the same feel as always, but possibly with a large hint of optimism. Theres a definite feel that we are through the worst and everyone seems much more positive than the last few years.

One thing that is different is that we arent being blasted with thousands of new products from the companies – theres a definite feel of focus and thought. We are seeing companies show us interesting new products and being reserved about it rather than showing us three new coulours for a memory lock and expecting us to get excited about it. It makes a nice refreshing change to be shown genuinely new products rather than unimportant tweaks. 



As is traditional now, Remo started very early (especially as most of the attendees probably had jet-lag) at 7:30am with the breakfast meeting. This takes place in a large room in one of the hotels and is attended by press, and representatives of Remo''s distribution network from all over the planet. Thankfully we are treated to a great breakfast with good coffee and lots of good food to keep us going for the rest of the morning.

So in the tradition of only showing us useful new products, Remo showed us one new snare head and one new bass drum head. However it makes it a bit more special when you have someone like Thomas Lang in to demonstrate them in a typical Lang style!

The new snare head is the Powerstroke77. It consists of two plies of seven mil film, an internal damping ring (also 7 mil but narrower than a traditional Powerstroke) to reduce overtones plus a five mil clear top dot to give extra strength. It''s also coated. We saw a video of Tony Royster Jr demoing the head, and as he accurately described it, it''s got loads of crack to it. This head actually started as a marching drum head but was recently adopted by kit players when they realised what a great sound it could give.

The new kick head is the Powerstroke3 Black Dot. This was suggested by Steve Smith and the addition of the centre dot lowers the pitch, and also dampens it even more. To my ears it has quite muted sound with a nice low pitch and just the right amount of control. It comes in a full range of bass drum sizes, and would work great on small bass drums to make them sound bigger.

Needless to say Thomas demonstrated both heads incredibly well, and I do feel sorry for his cymbals. We were also treated to Pete Lockett (always a treat) playing the Remo DrumTables. And we also had some live flamenco, complete with dancing!


On the Sabian stand, Andy Zildjian took the press through all the new Sabian products. First off is the new B8X range.This is the revised B8 range and it has new hammering, a new look, a flatter profile, and a new sound. To my ears they sound much more mature than the previous B8 cymbals.

Mark Love took us through the individual cymbals. As has already been leaked, Sabians big news is the Big and Ugly range. These are all larger cymbals (21, 22 and 24” sizes) from all of the ranges. However what ties them together is a more complex sound, thinner cymbals, and as Sabian themselves describe it, they''re all great fun to play. We were treated to Mark Guiliana playing a selection of the cymbals and they all did sound great.

Sabian also announced that they are now selling directly to retail. This has been bought about sooner than they had liked because of the change of US distribution to Drum Workshop. Both companies decided that now was the right time for Sabian to be selling direct.

Sabian also had one of their hand hammerers, Charlie Brown, on the stand actually hammering cymbals. I was really surprised by how much interest this generated – he was almost always surrounded by a crowd of people filming him. However, it was strangely calming to watch him.


GonBops were showing two new cajons, which are really worth a mention. The Practice Cajon is very thin (maybe 3 inches) but still sounds surprisingly good even though it is missing most of its body. It is designed to be played sitting on any seat, and has a flap at the top which you sit on to hold it in place.

The Commuter Cajon is even more clever. This can be taken apart and stored in a very thin backpack. To take it apart you simply undo four long wingbolts and fold in the sides. When it is fully set up, it sounds no different to any other cajon.


Unfortunately Ron Dunnett was recouperating after injuring himself recently so wasn't at the show. Rather than try and work out what the snares he was showing we thought we'd show you what was there and link through to his website.

Crescent Cymbals

Michael Vosbein was showing his Crescent cymbals. There have been a few changes since his linkup with Sabian and the cymbals sounded great as always. He also demonstrated (see the video) just how flexible some cymbals can be. Do not try this at home unless you know what you are doing!

Vic Firth

Vic Firth had their usual raft of new products. Probably the most important ones to kit players are the American Classic 5A and 5B which are now available with a barrel tip. It is amazing how a small change at the tip can make the whole stick feel very different, and they both felt very comfortable in the hand.

The Split Brush is another clever product which has filaments of two different lengths, so when you play lightly you get one sound (and half the filaments) and the harder you press into the head, the more wires are used, which changes that sound. The Steve Smith Tala Wand Slats are a square version of the previous ones with bamboo on the outside.


NFUZD is a new brand under the KHS umbrella. KHS own Mapex and Sonor and this new brand is their first departure into the field of electronic drums under the NSPIRE name. The people behind it are Russ Miller and John Emrich. This isn't a new electronic drum kit, more it is a range of electronic products which can change any acoustic drum kit into an electronic drum kit, or can be used as a standalone electronic kit, or can be used in a hybrid role. The pads lay on top of existing drum heads on a drum kit or on their own holders (which turns them into low-profile pads), have a rubber surface with either one or two rim zones (the snare drums have two rims and the toms have one). NSPIRE was being shown with conventional electronic cymbal pads.

The module is very interesting as you can load sounds from BFD into it. You create the kit you want to use using BFD on your computer and then using a special program, you can export that kit directly into the module and play it back. It doesn't sound exactly the same as BFD as it only uses eight dynamic layers rather than the many more which are available in BFD. However, it sounds good, looks good (especially when mounted onto a conventional drumkit) and is a much needed new direction for the electronic drum world. We'll let Russ Miller describe it for you.


Mapex were showing three new signature snares. We had Russ Miller show us his Versatus model and we were lucky enough to have Matt Halpern show us his new model too.

Russ also took us over the new Saturn V kit to show us why its really different. There has certainly been a lot of thought put into it as you''ll see from the video.


You may well have you read the Paiste press release already. If not, Paiste were showing the new PSTX effect cymbals, which as well as sounding very interesting, are also affordable. Dave Lombardo from Slayer has the new signature ride cymbal based on a 2002 22 inch Power Ride which he used in 1986. Stewart Copeland has a new pair of 12 inch hi hats, which are some of the tightest sounding hi hats I have ever heard. There is also a new 2002 10 inch Mega Bell, a 602 22 inch medium ride cymbal and two large aluminium bells.

After the main show, we were invited to the Paiste press do in a hotel room. Here we were lucky enough to hear both Stewart and Dave talk about and play their own cymbals.


Premier had four new products which they wanted to show us, but to be honest most of the interest was on The Beast. Yes, this is a strange name for snare drum, but it actually stands for something. This new 12 lug snare with its incredibly thick shell is actually called the British Engineered Air-flow Shell Technology. This drum has had so much interest, that I was even getting texts on my phone asking questions about it before the show even opened this morning. It looks great and comes in its own flight case. There was no mention of price, but we can only assume it won''t be cheap, and rightly so.


This year, Zildjian were concentrating on small effects cymbals and larger rides. They had a selection of Oriental FX China Trash (mini chinas) and new smaller Spiral Stackers which can be overlaid on other cymbals to create great sounding stacks.

Some of the larger Kerope rides have been made into medium weight models which give more stick attack than the original thin models. We were lucky enough to have Paul Francis show us the new models.

The new 21” K Custom Organic ride was getting a lot of interest. Not only does it look great but it sounds fabulous too.


New from Ludwig is the Legacy Mahogany kits. These come in five different finishes,although the natural Mahogany looks simply beautiful. There are plenty of nods to the past, with gullwing spurs and Keystone badges.

The Copperphonic snare is US made and available in 5 inch and 6 1/2 inch. It has a patina'd shell and looks beautiful.

Ludwig have also introduced satin finishes into their Classic range.


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